If you take a moment and look to your right, you will see our Jeremy habitat…yes, there is a living, breathing Jeremy in there, so keep your hands and feet on this side of the fence. He’s more scared of us than we are of him, but if you startle him, he may snap, so just be careful. We took him in when he had a broken wing, and he’s been here ever since…our keepers are taking very good care of him, and we believe that in five more weeks he will be well enough to fly home.
Now, let me paint you picture of what this Jeremy’s life is like in here:
Jeremy lives in a house in the city of Xela (pronounced shay-la), with a mother and her two sons. The mother has three sons total, 18, 22, and 24 years each…but the oldest has a wife and cute baby named Diego, and he lives elsewhere. There is a husband as well, but he lives and works in another city, and comes home on Saturdays. This family has a contract with Jeremy’s language school, el Proyecto Linguistico Quetzalteco de Espanol, and they have been taking in creatures like this Jeremy for 13 years now. The family is extremely friendly with Jeremy, and they feed him three times a day…a diet of eggs, tortillas, and black beans in the morning…a large lunch of vegetables, meats, rice, and tortillas…and a smaller dinner of more meat, vegetables, and rice. Jeremy seems to love his food, and as a gesture of gratitude he does the dishes after lunch and dinner every day.
The house is modest, but very pretty and comfortable, and Jeremy has his own room all to himself, where he studies and reads. He shares a bathroom and a shower (which has a strange heater contraption attached to the shower head to generate lukewarm water…and which uses much electricity and will shock Jeremy if he touches it in the wrong way. The family has refrigerator, a Sony tv with satellite, cell phones, and a stereo…but they the mother does the laundry by hand in a large stone sink, and so Jeremy believes that this family is more of the middle class persuasion compared to many families in Guatemala. However, Jeremy seems to be stunned by some of the decorations in the house, and at how they are things that he would normally take for granted or throw away…for example, the family has, as the centerpiece of their dining room table, a Batman Returns placemat…and Jeremy is curious because Batman Returns (and this place mat) was created in 1992.
Every morning, Jeremy wakes up at 6 in the morning, to the sounds of dogs barking, roosters crowing, cars rumbling, and firecrackers cracking (which Jeremy naively mistook for guns at first). Jeremy brushes his teeth with bottled water, gets dressed, and goes down to breakfast with the mother. At every meal, the mother talks in a very slow and friendly manner with Jeremy, in Spanish, and Jeremy attempts to slowly carry on conversations with her. He has improved considerably in this in the week he has been with us here.
At 7:45am, Jeremy walks ten minutes through the narrow streets of Xela, past many houses and small shops, to arrive at his language school…which is run by a collective of more left-leaning Spanish teachers…who set up the school to not only teach Spanish, but to teach about the social, political, economic situation of Guatemala. Jeremy has one-on-classes with one teacher a week, for five hours, from 8am-1pm. In these classes, his teacher teaches him by writing concepts and words down on long pieces of paper, while he takes notes…then the teacher talks with Jeremy about his life, his opinions, politics and history. Jeremy is very happy in these classes, he very much liked his first teacher…and he has learned much…but he is still slow in speaking, and shy.
The school is laid out around an indoor courtyard, where the sun shines in, and where there are lots of political posters and bulletin boards decorating the beautiful yellow walls. During the half hour coffee break during classes, Jeremy mixes with the 40+ other students, trying to speak Spanish, but often falling back on English.
After class, Jeremy walks back to his house, where he eats lunch, and then he either returns to his room to study, or he goes out to do activities with the school (the school hosts workshops and movies and trips related to the reality of Guatemala). So far, he mostly just studies and walks around alone, admiring the city.
He eats dinner at 7:30pm or 8:00pm, and lately he has taken to watching tv with the family (shows like Los Plateados…which is a cowboy soap opera…and la mujer de ejero…or something…which is a traditional soap opera…and the news). At 10pm, Jeremy goes to sleep and sleeps soundly until the roosters and dogs and firecrackers wake him up the next morning.
So far, Jeremy has very much enjoyed his stay in this habitat, and he is acclimating well. He loves his family, although he feels shy and embarassed to not be able to discuss more than favorite fruits and preferred types of movies…but he is new to all this, so we expected this of him.